The shelved European Super League, the importance of respecting football supporters, and how Middle-Eastern owners operate were three of the big talking points from Amanda Staveley’s latest interview with Bloomberg.
Our own football club got a mention – as did the Premier League – and that fact that so little was said about both can be seen as positive news for Newcastle fans, with the Dubai-based businesswoman stating that existing NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) deny her of the opportunity to say more.
A cautious choice of words when discussing NUFC indicates that the deal is still very much on the table and within her sights, and Staveley had to bat off a a question about the takeover from the offset:
“Firstly, I am party to strict Non-Disclosure Agreements so I cannot speak about Newcastle United at this time.
She then condemned the failed European Super League project, referencing how much the proposals would have damaged the ethos of the sport.
These comments echo what her husband, Mehrdad Ghodoussi, said when the plans were made public last month.
“We (PCP) are not in any way supportive of the European Super League. We believe its impact would damage the entire game and therefore every club, both financially and reputationally.
“Without the reward of a place in the UEFA Champions League, the English Premier League would lose much of its appeal to fans, and the value of the broadcast rights would decrease.
“The drama and tension of relegation creates great fan experiences and builds stronger relationships with audiences.
“That eventually translates into increased revenue as buyers of broadcast rights are prepared to pay more. “That’s also why we believe the founders of the ESL are being short-termist by failing to consider the negative impact of a closed competition with no relegation or promotion.
“Historically, European football clubs have typically been valued at one and a half to three times revenue.
“Top Premier League clubs, meanwhile, can command a multiple of four to five times revenue. These multiples would collapse if the ESL were to have gone ahead as proposed.”
“Our position on the European Super League is clear. Yes, it has started a conversation and will probably have many ramifications for some time to come.
“Principal among these for competing clubs will be reform of the UEFA Champions League and the financial fair-play rules. All of this needs careful consideration from all stakeholders.
“Again, as with salary caps, there needs to be a strong consensus, and all parties must be prepared to compromise to get to the right solution.”
One of Mike Ashley’s biggest flaws as owner of NUFC is the complete dissolution of trust and communication between himself and the fanbase.
His tenure has seen us fall victim to two entirely preventable relegations, turning us into a club that flirts with the drop zone season after season rather than showing ambition.
Staveley discussed the impact of relegation and keeping the game competitive, while also talking about the importance of building a bond between the board and supporters:
“There is always a risk element – it’s what makes business interesting – and risk management in football even more interesting.
“At the heart of our football is real competition and the excitement of promotion, relegation and winning trophies against well matched peers.
“The overwhelming majority of football fans respect the long traditions behind this and it is fundamental to our game. That should never change.”
“If we continue to improve the fan experience and build relationships with our supporter base, revenues will improve because media-rights buyers and sponsors will be prepared to pay more.
“If some clubs want to be able to raise debt funding that requires greater certainty for the lenders, then the parachute-payments model will need to be reviewed.
“But the biggest challenge to professional football is not financial engineering but attracting the next generation of young fans into following the clubs.”
The suspected devious motives of American owners within the English game was asked of Staveley, who refused to comment, but she did respond to how they may differ from owners from the Arab world:
“We cannot really speak to the objectives of American owners, although clearly financial returns are high up their agenda.
“As investors we understand that. As for owners from the Middle East, there are many aspects they consider. Football has an impact on wider society. Our investing partners appreciate and understand that.
“They also understand that when we become owners we become custodians of important entities within their local communities.
“Lastly, it’s important to emphasise that they are seriously long-term investors with the ability to weather downturns such as the current Covid-led reduction in revenues.”
Finally, one last “no comment” answer was directed towards the Premier League, a message that should give Toon fans hope ahead of the inevitable summer saga.
“We are not going to make comment about the EPL leadership. What I will say is that undoubtedly the EPL is the best league in the world.”